NSF Announces New Awards to Study the Impact of Katrina on People and Social Systems
Beyond buildings and levees, disasters profoundly affect humans, too
The National Science Foundation (NSF) has announced the first grants for a new wave of "rapid-response" research teams that will study the impact of Hurricane Katrina on people and social systems in the hard-hit Gulf Coast region.
Whereas the initial wave of rapid-response teams tended to focus on engineering problems--the most notable being the failure of the New Orleans' levee system--these new teams will focus on the human side of the story, including how people and organizations responded to the disaster and which factors are shaping the reconstruction. For example:
NSF expects to announce many more such awards over the next few weeks--at least two dozen of them funded under the foundation's interdisciplinary Human and Social Dynamics priority area. An up-to-date list of Katrina-related rapid response grants can be found here.
All awards on this list are being made under NSF's Small Grants for Exploratory Research (SGER) program. Although this program was created to support small-scale, exploratory, high-risk research of all kinds, it has proved to be especially well-suited for rapid-response situations because SGER requests can be processed and approved more quickly than ordinary research proposals. Indeed, NSF has previously used it to field research teams in the aftermath of both the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami.
As comparatively quick as the SGERs are, the researchers in this program will be joining other NSF-supported investigators who have been in the field for some time.
At the University of Colorado, Boulder, for example, the National Hazards Center has funding from NSF and several other federal agencies to give grants to teams of social and behavioral science researchers, who stand ready to head into the field at a moment's notice whenever a disaster strikes. The teams deployed in response to Hurricane Katrina under that program are listed here: http://www.colorado.edu/hazards/qr/katrina.html.
The National Science Foundation (NSF) is an independent federal agency that supports fundamental research and education across all fields of science and engineering. In fiscal year (FY) 2017, its budget is $7.5 billion. NSF funds reach all 50 states through grants to nearly 2,000 colleges, universities and other institutions. Each year, NSF receives more than 48,000 competitive proposals for funding and makes about 12,000 new funding awards.
Useful NSF Web Sites: